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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Milking MNLARS

Category: 2018
Posted: 03/08/18 11:24

by Dave Mindeman

The MNLARS system has been a disaster. Trying to fix it with this legislature is an even bigger disaster.

When MN has a problem that needs addressing, we can never get it resolved because the Republican dominated legislature would rather milk the controversy than fix the issue.

This happened with the individual insurance market over a year ago. The premiums were out of control and a cash infusion was necessary to at least temporarily give some relief.

But Kurt Daudt and the House Republicans wanted to make sure that Dayton and Democrats got the proper amount of blame first. They let the problem drag out through the year (creating uncertainty for MN families about their health insurance) just so they could make maximum use of the issue for the election cycle.

And so it is with MNLARS. The Republicans want Gov. Dayton to grovel about it. To make sure there is public acknowledgement that his administration was to blame for the problem. But the MN GOP legislators are not satisfied with that. They want more and more public condemnation. They withhold money which is necessary to pay those working on the problem.

On Tuesday, Minnesota National Guard Brig. Gen. Johanna Clyborne -- the newly appointed commissioner for the state's IT department, said delays by the Republican-led Legislature are prohibiting her from doing what she was hired to do: fix Minnesota's beleaguered computer system for vehicle registration and titles.

She was requesting $10 million to keep repairs going - otherwise the entire endeavor would have to be halted.

But Republicans want to attach some strings.....

1) Requiring commissioners to testify -- "under penalty of perjury" -- whether the project is moving ahead properly based on a number of prescribed milestones.

2) Establishing milestones ranging from the obvious -- "reduction in the backlog of vehicle titles" -- to the fuzzy: "deputy registrar satisfaction."

3) And forcing Dayton to take $10 million away from other departments.

Those "strings" amount to pettiness, pure and simple. They add nothing to the ability to fix this situation.

The legislature has a lot on its plate. This repair must occur, so delaying it by withholding funds is a disservice to the citizens of Minnesota.

But with Republicans, doing their job is secondary to partisan political points.

So, they want more discussion....

State Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, has introduced a bill that would "abolish" MNIT. The plan would make other departments at least consider contracting outside of state government for major computer projects in an effort to increase accountability. The plan would fold IT services under the direction of the Department of Administration, which currently oversees work ranging from purchasing to building maintenance.

One has to wonder if the "cheapskates" in the legislature really want to do this. Contracting outside vendors will be costly - and getting GOOD outside vendors will be even more costly.

The House Republicans are milking this. It is a dairy farm level of milking this.

At some point, MNLARS has to be fixed....and it would be if we had a responsible legislature.

We don't.
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Engage And Make It So

Category: 2018
Posted: 03/06/18 16:04

by Dave Mindeman

Democrats are out in force at these conventions. Record numbers in just about every category are rising to the surface. We actually have endorsement contests for House seats - which happens on rare occasions in the past, but this year is almost the norm.

How do we translate that into action? There are a number of ways and many of them are already happening.

1) Navigating the system. My wife and an assembled team of tech and action savvy people, have been spending several months prior to the caucuses setting up educational vehicles to explain the mazes of the DFL and how to engage productively. This group also produced some explanatory videos which offer the same educational background. Many people have taken advantage of this - with a number of new people heading for Congressional and State conventions as delegates. Too often in the past, what people learned was just enough to help a particular candidate. They did not know enough to continue activity in the party beyond that. This has definitely changed. This aspect of educated action is being discussed as a state wide program.

2) Outreach to activist groups. They are already out there. They are working well on their own. They have shared goals with the Party. But the DFL should reach out and connect with all of them whenever they can. Encourage their membership. Engage them to work within the party when possible. Merge our core goals. But also remember that these groups probably want to keep their autonomy and that remains important. Only open access to the party structure should be our responsibility. Make it easy. Make it optional.

3) Manage the differences. In a group of strong willed individuals, there will be strong disagreements. The key to keeping that a positive rather than a negative is to allow direct and open communication. It is frustrating to watch people take their toys and go home because things did not go their way. The key to longevity is to keep moving forward. To keep up your advocacy. Find another avenue. Work it. Yes, things will get heated at times, but DO NOT LET IT LINGER. Once something has been decided, that should be the end of that encounter. If it comes up again later, so be it. You owe it to yourself, to your candidate, and to your cause to not just give up. Politics is not easy or pretty. Remember that.

4) Stay the course. There has been this mistaken idea that the parties are the same. That no matter who wins, the same corporate influence wins out. But that is the case because we do not maintain the challenge to that type of authority. Corporations often win because they clear the field. Eliminate the challenges. Operate from a position of seemingly impossible strength. But since 2016 proved that party differences are real and that we are going to have join the fight in a much bigger way, the opportunity is there to build something. To forge a united front on a variety of issues - and to learn about and be active in electoral politics. We can't just watch the tube and expect things to change. This is a call for action. Real action on every political level. It does not end after you cast your ballot and does not just happen every 4 years. To make change, we need to change what we do.


It might be that the worst possible outcome in the 2016 election could be the catalyst that causes the real revolution everyone talks about. That from 2018 forward, the United States will find itself once again. That it will reject the politics of greed and embrace the politics of community. It will take every one of us doing what we do best.

Conventions and picking candidates is our task right now. After that, we take back the country.
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A Tribute To Old Glory

Category: Society
Posted: 03/05/18 14:46

by Dave Mindeman

I was driving south bound on I-35 through Lakeville and I passed the new Gander Outdoors store (formerly Gander Mountain) and there in all its glory was the largest flag I had ever seen. It was very windy so Old Glory was completely unfurled and waving like those amber waves of grain.

I was surprised at the pride I felt in that moment. I love our flag and what it stands for....but being a liberal Democrat, "real" Americans seem to think I have forfeited any right to feel that pride, because after all I don't have the proper respect. At least not the respect that "real" Americans have.

But let me just say this before I violate the conservative code on what is the definition of patriot.

To me, just my opinion, you cannot give the flag its due unless you are a proper observer or student of history. That flag has spent the last 250 years flying over a tumultuous democracy (or rather republic).

From its tattered beginnings, illuminated by the rockets red glare, in the War of 1812, the flag has stood. From the brother against brother assault in the Civil War, the flag emerged- weakened but still standing. In the war to end all wars, the flag rescued Europe and expanded its global reach. In the second war to end all wars, the flag emerged as a world power. During the Cold War, the flag was tested once again by a nuclear destructive threat of incredible proportions - but weathered the potential of nuclear landscape. In later years, the flag has been further tested by division - from Vietnam to Iraq to Trumpism....through all of it, the Stars and Stripes continues to protect the people it serves....whether we respect it or not. Whether we understand its meaning or not. And whether we truly believe in what it stands for...or not.

Despite the opinions of Trumpers, Tea Partiers, the NRA, or social conservatives - I love this country. I love the flag because of what it really means. Freedom and opportunity.

We are testing that meaning every day now. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty is being rewritten with restrictions never dreamed of by this country's founders. The issues of race and gender and sexual orientation are having struggles that a nation conceived upon the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for every individual American, could not imagine given those principles and the changes over the course of time.

We are tested on competing claims for the flag's authority on guns. Gun owners think that guns are guaranteed without restrictions based on the Second Amendment. Others feel the flag tells them that they have an equal right to feel safe and secure from those who would abuse those second amendment rights.

But our newest test and danger to the principles of our flag is immigration. Was America really meant to be a bastion ONLY for Americans? And what constitutes an American - after all we are ALL immigrants to some degree. Can we abandon those people looking for hope in war pillaged countries or besieged by famine in others?

Is an American only white? Is an American a race? a gender? a social class? Is an American any unique entity in any way, shape, or form?

We go through these "protectionist" periods in our history when we get concerned that the goodness of America is a finite substance. That we cannot possibly take care of everyone who wants to be here...to be us.

But at some point, we realize that protecting ourselves is counter to our very place in the world. When the world needs help, they look to us. Can we just turn away? Those who say we are founded on Christian principles (which I disagree with for many reasons) must at least hold to the concept of we are our brother's keeper....or suffer the least of these to come and forbid them not...or do unto others as you would have them do unto you. How can a Christian nation or just a responsible good hearted nation ignore the pleas of those who need help and protection.

We are the hope to people living in authoritarian countries. We are supposed to be the example, the beacon, the safe haven for those that seemingly have no hope.

We cannot abandon that. The Flag will not abandon that. We can have momentary lapses about deciding who we are - but the flag brings us back. Back to a land of the free and the home of the brave. Not just for a privileged few - we overthrew privilege 250 years ago - No, we are a nation that welcomes those who are tired, poor, and yearn to be free.

We will come back to those principles. Our flag demands it.
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